Month: October 2015

Lawyers as Leaders

The American Bar Association presented on Lawyers as Leaders at the Peace Center in Greenville on October 23rd, 2015, and it was a good refresher for me to attend.  Presentations focused on personality traits of lawyers, and how those traits impact leadership; lawyers as leaders within their firms; lawyers as leaders in client relationships; and, lawyers as leaders in our communities.  One presenter suggested that perfection is the ideal aspiration for a firm to adhere to.  That means going all in, in every case, great and small.  Ideas to beat the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule) and to move to 100 in the client experience were discussed and included maintaining consistent situational awareness; maintaining open, diverse and deep social networks; and operating from a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset that is bound by an unhealthy ego.

Maybe the perfectionist mindset isn’t all bad, I found myself wondering.  Personally, I believe that to beat the commodification of the legal profession, which is happening, lawyers must meet the leadership challenge.  For one, that means collaborating with your client in a way that ensures that he or she can see, hear and feel the difference a lawyer committed to leadership can make.  The call to leadership has my attention.  As my firm’s leader, the goal of Siemens Family Law Group remains to exceed client expectations while positively impacting the legal profession, the Courts, and the community at large.

Continuing Education: Alimony Modification

At some point in your professional career, you need to step forward and offer to give back to your colleagues and your profession.  Lots of good lawyers care about the quality of their work, their practice areas, and the law and policy that affect their clients.  Leaders of the North Carolina Bar Association Family Law Section put those best intentions into action.  Year after year, they present the best continuing legal education to lawyers of all levels of experience.  And, they work to educate the North Carolina General Assembly in an effort to make family law and policy in North Carolina work better for the citizens of the great North State.  I’m humbled to participate in these good efforts this year.  My contribution comes in the form of a presentation on the law of alimony, and in particular, alimony modification.  Here is the manuscript that I will be presenting from next week:

Child Custody and Shared Parenting

child custody_divorce_siemensfamilylawgroupI used this article, Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report, successfully for a father in a recent child custody case.  The article is a consensus report on the merits of shared parenting.  There is an increasing body of literature – social science – on the merits of shared parenting.  This article represents the best distillation of the science on the subject that I have been able to find.  The conclusions begin on page 59, for anyone who wants to skip to the bottom line.  Every case is different, and I explore the facts of each of my cases to determine whether there is a reason to consider something other than a shared parenting relationship.  Locally, I think that is the majority approach, among my colleagues, and generally among the three judges in our Buncombe County Family Court.  Recently, I hired a local expert to read the conclusions of this article into the record of proceedings to reinforce for the Court what I believe to be the majority approach to child custody.  Whether you are a lawyer, a judge or a litigant, the time has come to think carefully about the emerging social science of child custody.  Ultimately, child custody cases are about the child’s developmental experience, which needs to include mom and dad, in equal proportion, absent unusual circumstances.